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Tips for Hosting a Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving

Tips for Hosting a Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving

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Growing up, my family’s holiday get-togethers were always kid-friendly. With a range of 27 years amongst grandchildren, there was never enough room at one table for everyone. By the time the third grandchild came along, my grandmother was wise enough to group the little ones together, armed with plenty to do — no one ever felt left out of the action. There were even some grown-up family members who secretly wanted a seat at the kids table!

Whether you’re hosting your first Thanksgiving with the entire extended family or your 15th, it helps to be prepared if some of your guests are under the age of 13. To eliminate the guess work on your behalf, and make sure there are no clingy-kid meltdowns, we’ve come up with a list of seven key things to keep in mind — from a kids table to Thanskgivng-themed treats to decorate — to make sure your family’s Thanskgiving is fun for all ages.

1. Serve Kid-Friendly Foods

On Thanksgiving, it’s pretty easy to make sure that every guest, from two to 82, is well-fed and happy at the end of the day — what’s not to like about sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and green beans? Still worried about picky eaters? Have on hand the fixings for turkey or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and a turkey-shaped cookie cutter. Serve with a side of carrots and beans, arranged like feathers, and the kids can have their own turkey, too.

2. Set a Table Just for Them

When you’re expecting more than five kids under the age of 10, and they’re old enough to take care of themselves (minus the use of sharp knives), set up a small table just for the kids. Get them excited and involved in setting the table by having the each make their own placemat using construction paper and outlining their fingers into the shape of a turkey. Or have them be in charge of a centerpiece. Use brown Kraft paper in lieu of a formal tablecloth (as messes will likely be made) and set out crayons for drawing. Then set out pumpkins, leaves, and acorns for them to arrange themselves, perhaps adding in a popcorn-stuffed turkey, too. (Photo courtesy of

3. Share a Special Treat

Short of sitting on their own, free from the watchful eye of parents, one of the best parts of sitting at the kids table (at least in my family) is that there usually is some delicious treat awaiting our arrival. It’s easy to buy turkey-shaped chocolates at the store or assemble pilgrim hats with peanut butter cups and chocolate-covered cookies. Feeling crafty? Make a boat filled with a mix of nuts, candy, and popcorn like this one. (Photo courtesy of

4. Plan Something Crafty

The best way to ensure your young ones have fun over the holidays is to keep them busy. If they run off to play with cousins, great — but that’s not always the case. To ensure that the kids aren’t clinging to their parent’s legs (Because mom and dad need to have fun, too!), organize a couple of projects that will keep kids occupied. Thanksgiving-themed activity books are easy and inexpensive to assemble. Just print out a couple of coloring and activity pages and set one at each place. Or set out a varity of dried beans and pastas for each kid to make their own turkey to take home. Trace the shape of your hand onto the plate, paint it with glue, and have fun decorating.

5. Create Something Edible

If paper and scissors aren't exciting enough, kids will love assembling their own Thanksgiving-themed treats. While getting ready, have kids help you assemble gratitude rolls, rolling up a piece of paper with something they’re thankful for inside each roll. Or set up a decorating station with treats. Use these instructions for decorating cookies for the ultimate turkey-cookie decorating station. Or set up a cupcake decorating station instead. All you need is candy corn and frosting to make these turkey cupcakes, or autumn-colored M&M's or jelly beans to make these Indian corn-inspired treats. (Photo courtesy of

6. Plan a Family Activity

For many, Thanksgiving is one of the few times of year where everyone has a chance to come together. Use that to your advantage, and plan for an activity or two that both the youngest and oldest family members can enjoy. For example, make a turkey of thanks. Have each guest write something they’re thankful for on a turkey tail feather and then have the children collect the feathers to decorate a turkey, reading off each quote once the family sits down around the table. Or plan something that allows each person to get up out of their chair, like Pin the Tail on the Turkey.

7. Have a Movie on Hand

When in doubt, a movie works wonders when it comes to keeping young kids happy. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, pull out some holiday favorites like Pocahontas, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Mouse on the Mayflower, or Miracle on 34th Street, for older kids. If the little ones are young, and you know their favorite film will keep them enthralled for an hour (or put them to sleep), go with what works.

For more turkey talk, visit The Daily Meal's Ultimate Guide to Thanksgiving!

4 Kid-Friendly Recipes for the Best Stay-At-Home Thanksgiving Ever

Let’s gather and be thankful – safely at home with our own families! This year, the kids table will become the best spot in the house with the tasty plates including easy Thanksgiving recipes like these.

Check out our roundup of kid-friendly Thanksgiving recipes that are great for Thanksgiving festivities with immediate family as we all take care to stay home this year. From sweet to savory, our top four kid-friendly recipes will make your Thanksgiving day special, even if it’s not shaping up to be a traditional gathering everyone is used to.

Potato Mashers

Tip: Not only can the kiddos help with prep, but they can also customize their potato mashers to make their very own creations! Experimenting with flavor is always fun and a great way for kids to interact and share ideas to create new flavor combinations together.


2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and quartered

Assorted toppings like sour cream, mini Goldfish crackers, brown gravy, chives, bacon crumbles, etc.


  1. Add potatoes to a pot of salted boiling water. Cook until tender (about 15 minutes), drain. Put drained potatoes back into the large pot.
  2. Heat butter and milk over low heat in a small saucepan until butter is melted. Add minced garlic and stir until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
  3. Using a potato masher or electric beater, slowly blend milk mixture into potatoes in the large pot until smooth. Add salt and pepper and stir.
  4. Top each serving with assorting fixings and enjoy. Makes 8 child-sized servings (or 4 adult servings)!

Turkey Dinner Roll-Ems

Tip: Layering the ingredients into the tortillas lets kids customize their rolls. Our base recipe includes components of a Thanksgiving turkey dinner, but can certainly be switched out or modified to suit your (or your child’s) taste.


8 ounces softened cream cheese

8 10-inch flour tortillas or whole-wheat wraps

½ head lettuce torn or cut into 4-inch pieces

16 slices sharp cheddar cheese, halved

2 tomatoes, halved and sliced


  1. Mix cream cheese and cranberry sauce in a small bowl until combined.
  2. Spread a thick layer of cream cheese mixture onto a tortilla or wrap, all the way to the edges. Layer lettuce down the middle.
  3. Layer two slices of turkey and four pieces of cheese on top of the lettuce. Top with tomato slices.
  4. Roll tortilla (or wrap) tightly and wrap tightly in plastic wrap to keep the rolled shape. Continue with remaining tortillas or wraps until all have been assembled and wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.
  5. Chill the wrapped rolls in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. To serve, unwrap the plastic and trim any unfilled ends. Slice each roll into 8 pieces.

Cheesy Cauliflower Dippers

Tip: From adding ingredients to the bowl to mashing these dippers into the muffin tin, there’s a lot kiddos can help with to prep this recipe. And of course, a dipper side dish is a fun, kid-friendly addition to our Kidsgiving feast!


4 cups finely chopped cauliflower

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs

1 ½ Tablespoon garlic powder


  1. Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Spray 2 mini muffin tins with cooking spray.
  2. Place cauliflower in a large microwave-safe bowl. Place a damp paper towel on top of the cauliflower and microwave for 2 minutes. Squeeze out any excess moisture with a clean dish towel or paper towels.
  3. Add egg, both kinds of cheese, panko, garlic powder, and parsley to the bowl with the cauliflower. Mix well to combine.
  4. Spoon one heaping Tablespoon of the cauliflower mixture into each muffin tin. Press to pack down into the tin.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until cauliflower dippers are golden brown. Let cool at least 5 minutes before removing from the muffin tins.
  6. Serve dippers with ketchup, marinara, mayonnaise, or honey mustard sauce on the side!

Roasty-Toasty Apple Bake

Tip: This one’s an easy dessert recipe that comes together in just 10 minutes – can’t beat that! Include granola, mini chocolate chips, and other sweet fixings on the side for kids to make this dessert completely theirs and share creative ideas with friends.

Tips and Recipes for a Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Dinner

A kid-friendly Thanksgiving dinner, you say? How about a parent-friendly Thanksgiving dinner, too?

After moving 2,000 miles away from our nearest set of grandparents, I found myself on the hook for cooking our family Thanksgiving dinner for the very first time. With an active toddler afoot in the house, I quickly “noped” the traditional, but stress-inducing idea of roasting a whole turkey. Stealing a page out of my mother-in-law’s playbook, I bought just turkey breasts to cook for our Thanksgiving dinner. I also found a slow cooker turkey breast recipe that incorporates ingredients that are beyond simple, yet bring on an explosion of rich, savory flavor.

On the morning of the big day, I placed the turkey breasts into the crock pot seasoned the meat with salt and pepper tossed in chopped onions, butter, and white wine turned on my Crock-Pot and, then, sat down with my husband and child to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in our jammies. Turkey preparation done in less than 10 minutes. Leisurely making of green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry relish, and pumpkin pie. Turkey and gravy done just in time for a mid-afternoon dinner. And, we all ate happily ever after. It was the most relaxing Thanksgiving Day we had ever had, bar none.

This year, our family has an additional little gobbler who makes cooking just a normal weekday dinner a challenge. Yet, ready to mix up our Thanksgiving dinner set list, I find myself on the hunt for other simple, but “nom”* worthy Thanksgiving recipes. *We very much taught our one-year old child to say “nom” while munching. This collection of kid-friendly and parent-friendly Thanksgiving Day recipe options will have the whole family saying “nom!”

Let your slow cooker do all the heavy lifting when it comes to the turkey this Thanksgiving. With the turkey breasts simmering away in a hot bath of butter, white wine (the alcohol cooks off), and onions, you will have more time and space to work on your other dishes. You can even squeeze in a little sit-down time with your loved ones! Get the recipe.

Because, sometimes, no matter how hard you try, your kids don’t want to eat turkey, but loaf-shaped ground beef topped with ketchup—sign them up! It’s an American classic-enough dish worthy of a place on the table at our house on Thanksgiving. Get the recipe.

Crispy, yet fluffy, butter soaked bread, baked in the oven—what’s not to like? Get the recipe.

This refreshing cranberry relish has been my go-to replacement for the standard gelatinous can of cranberry sauce for almost 10 years running. Its balance of sweet, tart, and fruity flavors is the perfect counterbalance to all the rich, savory Thanksgiving day food. And, all you need is a food processor to do all the chopping and mixing of the ingredients for you. Get the recipe.

“Cheese” is all I have to say to get my kids’ attention. Say, “Cheese Turkeys,” and they will come fast-walking and trotting over to the kitchen as quickly as their little legs can go. Get the recipe.

You’ve forgotten to buy a can of cream of mushroom soup for the green bean casserole or maybe you don’t want MSG or modified food starch in your food—not to worry. Creamier and more naturally savory than the canned version, this condensed homemade cream of mushroom soup recipe will not fail you. Get the recipe.

How to get your child to eat sweet potato—disguise it in the shape of a pasta-like gnocchi! How to potentially get your child to eat sweet potato and broccoli rabe—coat it all in Parmesan cream! Get the recipe.

“Is it ‘elbow’ macaroni and cheese?” asks my daughter when I tell her we’re having macaroni cheese. Yes, dear, it is ‘elbow’ macaroni and cheese, and so is this classic, easy to make, baked macaroni and cheese that is sure to please discerning toddlers and older children everywhere, who wouldn’t dare tolerate any mixing in of broccoli, peas, or any other speck of green. Get the recipe.

You can totally convince your kids that they are eating a giant acorn like a squirrel! And, this easy roasted acorn squash will at least make you feel like you are adding a responsible amount of fiber to your kids’ Thanksgiving diet, butter and brown sugar glaze aside. Get the recipe.

Rich, buttery, and cake-like, this corn casserole parades as a side dish, but will get gobbled up like a dessert. Get the recipe.

Plain mashed potatoes just not your tot’s jam? This bacon and cheddar cheese loaded mashed potato casserole will have your child singing a different tune. Get the recipe.

This recipe for cakey, chocolate chip cookies contains one cup of pumpkin puree, so that means the kids are fractionally fulfilling their daily serving of fruit for the day, right? Get the recipe.

There’s just something about pulling apart layers of a warm, ooey, gooey, but not raw, loaf of bread that is immensely satisfying. Mix in pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice and drizzle the loaf with cinnamon icing—Thanksgiving dessert heaven. Get the recipe.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles, yum! Pumpkin Snickerdoodles stuffed with cream cheese, “what. ” as my oldest daughter would gleefully exclaim at the extraordinary idea. Get the recipe.

This pumpkin pie in smoothie form will even have your youngest gobbler in the house lapping it up! Get the recipe.

My kids like maple syrup, they like bacon, and they like caramel. Mix ’em all together, you say? Yes, they will be all over this Maple Caramel Bacon Crack like squirrels to a bird feeder. Get the recipe.

A stash of these adorable little acorns, made with Hershey’s Kisses, mini Nilla wafer cookies, and semi-sweet chocolate chips would take a smidgen of time to make and would easily cute up your dessert spread. You could even get your kids in on the simple assembly. Get the recipe.

Layers of smooth pumpkin cheesecake mousse and whipped cream, topped with crunchy gingersnap crumbles—oh my! I know we will all be guarding our layered pumpkin mousse dessert cups from wandering spoons. Get the recipe.

You don’t even have to bake these pumpkin balls. Your child could so help you make them. Did you know kids are more likely to eat what they’ve helped make? Something to do with them knowing no green vegetable got harmed in the making of the recipe. Get the recipe.

Bacon feathers, a candy corn beak, and candy eyes, perched upon a glazed cinnamon roll, these silly turkeys will get gobbled up. Get the recipe.

Related video: 7 Thanksgiving Dishes You Should Always Make Ahead

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5 tips on Hosting a Kid Friendly Dinner Party #DIFINDS

I love hosting parties, and I’m always looking for creative ways to include my daughter Joy. Today’s helpful tips are sponsored by Deseret Industries in partnership with Boncom , all opinions are my own.

Here are 5 Tips on Hosting a Kid Friendly Dinner Party:

(Please feel free to share these tips with your friends by clicking on the buttons on the left and above this post).

Tip 1

Instead of using paper plates and cups create a lovely table setting for your younger guest by using less expensive dishware. It will make them feel included at dinner, and you won’t have to worry about your China, getting broke. I found the beautiful set below at a Dessert Industry Thrift Store for under twenty bucks.

Tip 2

To keep kids occupied before dinner is served set up a table with printables and crayons.

Tip 3

To make the party stress-free and enjoyable, for you, serve up something that is quick and easy. The tuna wraps below are simple to make and goes great with a fruit platter or chips.

Tip 4

Select an age-appropriate game that encourages bonding, critical thinking or creativity. If you do not have any games at your house or you just want to play something new, check out your local thrift store. On my last shopping trip to the Dessert Industries Thrift Store, we picked up Cadoo for Kids and Chicken Soup for the family soul at a fraction of their retail price. What’s more both games were in excellent condition.

Tip 5

End the night with a delicious dessert that will wow your guest. A cute idea is to serve individual Funfetti Cake Trifles.

For your next party don’t forget to stop by a Dessert Industry thrift store to see what you can find!

  • Served nearly 12,000 associates.
  • Provided more than 75,000 community grants (vouchers to needy families for free merchandise from DI, granted through partnerships with other charitable organizations in the communities served by DI).
  • Helped place more than 3,500 individuals in permanent, full-­time employment following their training at DI.
  • Produced more than 55,000 humanitarian kits to provide relief to victims of disasters around the world.
  • Manufactured and shipped more than 72,000 mattresses and 20,000 wood furniture items for sale in DI stores and for humanitarian relief.
  • Deseret Industries has 42 retail stores and donation centers in seven western states, one humanitarian center, and one furniture manufacturing facility.

Do you have any great tips on hosting a kid-friendly dinner party.? Please share in the comment below.

Hosting a kid-friendly holiday meal

I’m not sure why since I do typically get stressed out at some point when something inevitably goes array leaving Mike or the nearest sane adult to pick up the pieces of my frazzled mental state and calm me down.

Where was I going with this?

Oh yeah… so with Halloween tomorrow I think it’s safe to say that the holiday season is officially upon us and with it comes a copious amount of dinner parties and family gatherings. Over the years I’ve learned that everyone at your big dinner will be much happier if the kids are having a great time. You know the saying, “happy wife, happy life“? Well, “happy brood, happy mood” is maybe even more true.

Today I wanted to share with you some simple tips if you find yourself hosting a hoard of children this year. Although I’m focusing on Thanksgiving since that’s our next big holiday, these ideas really apply to any meal or function where young ones will be in attendance.

Consider your crowd

Are you going to have a separate kids table or have everyone sit together? There are defiantly pros and cons to each but the first thing to think about is the age range of kids. If you have all younger kids that will need assistance throughout the meal then it’s probably best if they’re right there with you. However, if they’re older then it can be a nice break to have them sit at their own table.

If you are having your own kids table then have some fun and make it as kid-friendly as possible! Using festive and disposable dinnerware means that cleanup is easier and you won’t have to worry about things breaking mid-meal. Even a disposable tablecloth can make dinner a lot more fun if you choose one that can double as a coloring mat!

Pre-dinner prep

In the hours leading up to your big meal what are your plans for keeping your little ones entertained and your house intact and presentable for visitors? I mean, other than just yelling at them every two minutes? No, just me?? If your kids are old enough consider having them help you in the kitchen, in my experience little ones love to help stir or set the table. If your kids are younger then have them prep their very own holiday meal in their play kitchen, maybe sporting some mommy and me (or doll and me) matching aprons?

Another thing we love to do is watch holiday movies, the Charlie Brown holiday specials are one of our favorites. Put out some fun holiday crafts and have them stay occupied while feeling festive. Holiday themed books and games are always fun too, especially when they have friends to join in on the fun!

Entertaining eating

I don’t know about you but one of the things that drives me nuts about dinnertime is when my kids finish their food at the speed of light and the ask–“can we have dessert now?”–when we’ve barely started on our entrees. No fears though, because I have a couple of tricks to combat this mealtime dilemma.

One thing you can do is simply let your kids get up and go play in another room, then call them when all the adults are also ready for dessert. I find this really works the best when they have friends to play with, as they’re much more apt to go occupy themselves in another room if they have friends to entertain. This is another good time to pull out some fun holiday crafts or games.

Another thing I like to do is try and keep them busy at the table as long as possible. This could include coloring on paper placemats or disposable tablecloths (as mentioned above), or even just placing ledger size pieces of blank paper under their table setting as a simple placemat that they can doodle on to their hearts content.

Make a Thanksgiving Day Timeline

Include, at a minimum, the following elements: breakfast, appetizers, sit-down dinner, and dessert. Here's a sample timeline:

  • 9:00 Breakfast. If you have overnight guests, make an egg-based one-dish meal ahead of time. Something you can prep the night before is ideal.
  • 1:00 Appetizers and drinks. Starting the day at 1:00 means you won't have to prepare lunch for anyone because they can help themselves to some appetizers. This will buy you some time to finish up dinner and keep everyone snacking and entertained.
  • 2:30 Dinner. The main event begins.
  • 5:00 Dessert and coffee. This will give guests some breathing room between the main meal and the dessert course. This also guarantees you won't need to make an additional meal for dinner. Anyone who gets hungry later on can make their own sandwich.


My grandmother always assigned seats to everyone. My mother followed in her footsteps and now I do the same. This is especially handy if you set multiple tables or have different sets of guests coming. It ensures everyone has a spot with their significant other, no one has to try to be polite by guessing which spot they should take, and it gives a special “I prepared this place for this nice meal just for you” kind of feeling.

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10 Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving

2. Invest in good equipment𠅊 sturdy roasting pan for even cooking, rack with handles for easy turkey removal, meat thermometer, carving knife, etc. Even an oven thermometer can help make sure your turkey is ready on time.

3. If you&aposre using a frozen turkey you must allow adequate time to defrost it—you cannot cook a frozen turkey through on Thanksgiving Day!

4. Make sure your turkey fits in the pan and the pan fits in your oven. People sometimes by a big bird and a big pan for a big crowd only to realize that their city apartment oven or older model oven is too small to hold their turkey.

5. Everything doesn&apost have to be homemade-buy some pre-made products to round out your meal𠅊nd take guests up on offers to bring something, whether it&aposs a pie or sodas.

6. Stuffing doesn&apost have to be stuffed into the cavity of your turkey. A lot of cooks make "dressing" baked in the oven. That way your turkey cooks faster and you don&apost have to worry about undercooked stuffing. If you have vegetarians coming, make a vegetarian dressing you can serve to all your Thanksgiving guests.

7. Timing is everything—­so that all food is hot and ready at the same time, plan recipes accordingly and have lots of covered ovenproof serving dishes available to keep foods warm.

8. Have plenty of creative hors d&aposoeuvres on hand to keep guests happy until turkey time. They don&apost have to be Thanksgiving-themed or even autumnal—try guac/salsa and chips, hummus and pita crisps, sausage bites, etc.

9. Keep drinks cold—if your fridge is full of food, consider a cooler with ice or keeping drinks in a cold garage or, depending on where you live, even outside.

10. Keep the day for essentials like cooking and celebrating with your guests𠅌lean the house, etc. on the day before.

8 Essential Tips if You’re Hosting Thanksgiving for the First Time

Hosting your first Turkey Day meal and feeling overwhelmed? Never fear, because we have solutions for just about every Thanksgiving challenge you might face!

Some items on your shopping list are going to be obvious &ndash like a turkey, ingredients for stuffing, etc. But there are a lot of items you&rsquore going to have to have on hand that might not be so obvious. Check out Rachael&rsquos list and you&rsquoll be prepared!

Want to serve a Thanksgiving feast for under $5? We&rsquore not joking! Our couponing expert Cindy Livesey shows you how it&rsquos done!

If it&rsquos your first time hosting a holiday meal, chances are you don&rsquot have a huge stash of entertaining supplies. No need &ndash Nate Berkus shows you how to improvise classy décor for practically nothing!

You&rsquore going to need to know how long to cook your turkey and whether to cook the stuffing inside or out. Moreover, you will need to make sure your sides are ready at the same time as your main dish! Click here for the definitive guide.

There&rsquos nothing like spending all day cooking a bird and then having it hacked apart into sloppy pieces. Learn how to properly carve your turkey so that it will look just as beautiful on a platter as it did in the roasting pan!

Even the most seasoned hosts and cooks run into last minute issues on Turkey Day. Rachael and Curtis Stone troubleshoot everything that could go wrong on the big day here. Make sure to bookmark this page!

If you&rsquove spent so much time thinking about to prep the bird that you don&rsquot have time to sort through dessert recipes, we&rsquove got you covered. Check out 13 amazingly delish dessert options.

One key to a successful party is to keep the mess under control. Peter Walsh has six brilliant tips, including creating a simple rolling dish bin to get dishes from the dining room to the kitchen quickly!

What&rsquos your biggest fear when it comes to preparing a Thanksgiving meal? Share below, plus, watch Curtis Stone demonstrate how to carve a turkey -- blindfolded! (Do not try this at home!)

Use Store-Bought Options

If you don’t want to prepare an entire vegetarian roast, try picking up some vegetarian turkey deli slices, such as Tofurky’s cranberry deli slices. When warmed up for a few minutes in the microwave, they are much like sliced turkey. Douse in vegetarian gravy, dip in potatoes and enjoy!

You may be able to order an entirely vegetarian or vegan Thanksgiving feast no assembly required. Whole Foods offers a pre-cooked vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner, as do many larger health food stores and vegetarian and vegan restaurants, or, you can order or usually just drop in and pick up plenty of vegetarian and vegan Thanksgiving side dishes a la carte from Whole Foods.

If you want to do the cooking yourself, but need a little help, many Whole Foods, and local co-op grocery stores offer vegetarian Thanksgiving cooking classes in the weeks before Thanksgiving.